Tuesday, October 2, 2007

#21 Female Performance: Amy Adams

Amy Adams
Ashley Johnsten
Junebug (2005)

Don’t think for a moment that I had overlooked some of those great supporting female performances that have cropped up in the last 6 years or so. They deserve to be recognized just as much as main leading actresses do and sometimes even manage to steal the spot-light altogether. This is such the case with Amy Adams from Phil Morrison’s debut film Junebug. She plays Ashley, a high-spirited young woman from a small town in North Carolina who is in the last stages of her pregnancy. She couldn’t be more thrilled to have a baby and along with her uncontrollable eagerness to finally meet her brother’s new fiancé, Ashley is on the verge of hyperventilating from all this excitement. Right when we first meet her, her shining optimism and wide-eyed innocence is infectious – it’s hard not to fall in love with her, albeit not instantaneously. Ashley may not be the most sophisticated of people and she starts out as annoying with frivolous questions and juvenile behavior. As the story progresses her immaturity translates into adorable charm and conclusively to sole wisdom as tragedy strikes a low blow to the family. There is a real star-quality to Amy Adams and whenever she isn’t on screen, the film feels that it is lacking a little spark. The rest of cast also does superb work in bringing depth to their characters through subtlety although it is Adams who goes one step further to delicately engage the script bringing her character to life and make it completely her own. She’s a one woman show, authentic and with plenty of talent to spare.

There’s a terrific scene where Adams proves why she was nominated for an Oscar that year. Ashley’s conceited husband who does actually love her even though he isn’t particular good at showing it is downstairs while there is a baby shower celebration going on upstairs. He knows that his wife has affection for mongooses and flipping through the channels he stumbles upon a wild-life documentary on the animal. He quickly scrambles to find a VHS tape to record it and is unsuccessful. Screaming in frustration causes quite a stir to the upstairs festivities and Ashley comes down to see what the entire ruckus is about. In a film that could easily fall into cliché, you would expect Ashley to be furious with her husband for disrupting her guests but the filmmakers opt for a more simplistic alternative that reveals a great deal about the couple without saying much. She faces him and simply says, “God loves you just the way you are. But He loves you too much to let you stay that way.” Ashley says these words to him with utter warmth rather than conviction as a way of expressing how his irritable behavior has been since the beginning of the pregnancy; his displeasure at the soon future prospect of being a father. Her optimism becomes the driving force of the entire film and Adams sells every moment. This is the kind of performance you won’t soon forget.

1 comment:

Magnus Buchan said...

Meerkats! not mongooses